Chronic Illness

When the Doctor Gives You Bad News

It is news nobody wants to hear. You have been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness that threatens to dramatically alter your life. Perhaps you have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, breast cancer, and the list goes on. When you first hear the news, a blanket of shock settles over you. You leave the doctor’s office in a fog and feel that your life has stopped in its tracks, hopes and dreams for the future shattered.

It is a natural response to become angry and to grieve the loss of a healthy body. It is a natural response to fear the uncertainty of your future. You may ask yourself, “How will my illness affect my quality of life? Will I be able to work? Can I still do the things I enjoy? Will my illness shorten my life? How do I tell my family and how will they cope?” With the initial shock of the diagnosis begins a long and often challenging journey to face the realities associated with the illness, to discover ways to adjust to new limitations, to maximize the quality of daily living, and to ultimately find personal meaning, purpose, and value in the future.

Finding Strength, Healing, and Hope

What do you do when the bad news comes? At some point, you must make a choice to either respond with hope or give up and allow being “sick” to define who you are. Don’t give up. Each person has within them all that is necessary to face bad news and broken dreams, and to choose to live with passion and purpose. You have the capability to transform brokenness into value over time. At Southlake, our therapists are here to help you respond with hope, knowing that there is a lot of life that occurs between diagnosis and death.

Speaking at a national oncology convention, noted physician, psychiatrist, and priest, Edwin Cassem, offered six goals for those who are faced with serious illness:

How do I learn to live ill, disabled, disfigured?
Who am I now? How can I matter?
Do I have a new mission?
Can this type of life be my finest hour?
What gifts can I give?
How do I best prepare my loved ones to live without me? (Or with my illness.)

At Southlake, an expertly trained therapist will work with you to customize a treatment plan that incorporates these goals. He or she will gently guide you as you grieve the loss of your health and continue your journey towards finding your “new normal,” realigning your dreams, and fully re-engaging in a productive and rewarding life.